Driving Migrant Inclusion through Social Innovation - Lessons for cities in a pandemic - IOM ...

Driving Migrant Inclusion through Social Innovation - Lessons for cities in a pandemic - IOM ...
Driving Migrant Inclusion
                   through Social Innovation

                        Lessons for cities in a pandemic

                                            E U R O P E
Co-funded by the
European Union
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Suggested citation: Patuzzi, Liam. 2020. Driving Migrant Inclusion through Social Innovation: Lessons for cities in a pandemic.
Brussels and Geneva: Migration Policy Institute Europe and International Organization for Migration.

Driving Migrant Inclusion
                   through Social Innovation

                        Lessons for cities in a pandemic

                                               By Liam Patuzzi

                                              September 2020

                                            E U R O P E
Co-funded by the
European Union
Executive Summary........................................................................................................................................ 1

1       Introduction .............................................................................................................................................. 3

2       Social Innovation: Hype or hope?............................................................................................. 6

3       Social Innovation in Diverse Cities ....................................................................................... 10
        A.       Addressing the needs of the most vulnerable and hardest to reach....................................... 10
        B.       An ear on the ground: Mobilizing and sustaining community engagement..................... 14
        C.       Joining forces in testing times: Multi-stakeholder partnerships.................................................. 17
        D.       Co-creation: Involving beneficiaries in designing and providing services........................... 22

4       Final Reflections: Ongoing challenges and lessons for the COVID-19
        crisis............................................................................................................................................................... 23

About the Author.......................................................................................................................................... 28

Acknowledgements.................................................................................................................................... 29

Executive Summary
The spike in migrant and refugee arrivals in 2015–16 marked a tipping point for many European
cities’ approach to inclusion. Faced with large numbers of newcomers with complex needs, many
localities were forced to experiment with new models of service provision, including working with
non-governmental actors and relying more heavily on communities themselves to support the newly
arrived. As a result, many cities have developed a fragile ecosystem of social innovation, made up of
untraditional partnerships between government, businesses, and grassroots organizations. A number
have explored innovative models of financing integration measures; inclusive strategies for engaging
migrants and refugees in the design and delivery of services; creative approaches to community
engagement; and human-centred, holistic service models.

As European cities begin to re-open
after the lockdowns forced by the             In this “new normal”, cities ... may find that the
COVID-19 pandemic in Spring 2020,
                                              social innovation infrastructure born out of
a major question is how they will
support their migrant and refugee             the 2015–16 crisis could be the ticket to a more
populations amid ongoing social               cost-effective and politically viable response.
distancing orders and other measures
to contain the spread of the virus. In this “new normal”, cities facing rising social challenges and the
difficulty of supporting vulnerable groups, all while grappling with tight budgets, may find that the
social innovation infrastructure born out of the 2015–16 crisis could be the ticket to a more cost-
effective and politically viable response. Yet these nascent structures also risk crumbling under the
tough economic situation and impending budget cuts, and much of what makes them work – personal
interactions – has been rendered extremely difficult by social distancing measures. The pandemic could
thus be a make-or-break moment for this innovative architecture for social inclusion. It is also a major
test of European cities’ crisis resilience, and numerous lessons can be drawn from the experiences of the
2015–16 period.

Many of the social innovations developed since 2015–16 fall into four broad categories:

   ► Supporting hard-to-reach populations. Some newly arrived immigrants are poorly served by
     the logic of traditional services or fall through the gaps of traditional service provision. Efforts
     to reach these groups can be seen in Palermo, Italy, and Thessaloniki, Greece, where civil society
     organizations have played a key role in creating extensive networks to provide holistic services to
     unaccompanied children. Learning from the experiences of cities in Northern Europe and North
     America, the Italian city of Milan has developed an effective model that incorporates rapid access
     to housing and targeted counselling to reduce the exclusion of the most vulnerable, homeless,
     and marginalized groups. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic poses a major threat to such services: in the
     short term, the challenge is that these services generally revolve around in-person interactions,
     and in the long run, it is that they are expensive and focused on intensity rather than scale,
     which may make them hard to sustain as governments prepare to address soaring needs with
     slashed resources. Still, some of the smartest ideas, such as matching refugees with volunteer
     and civic engagement opportunities to build skills, confidence, and social capital – as explored
     by projects in Warsaw, Poland; Thessaloniki, Greece; or Ghent, Belgium – may gain in importance.
     Such initiatives can give migrants and refugees the opportunity to engage in productive activity

                                         MPI Europe and IOM | 1

    in times of soaring unemployment, while also allowing local governments to enlist everyone’s
    contributions to address growing social needs.

► Engaging receiving communities. Encouraging communities to feel they have a stake in
  receiving newcomers is an important dimension of social cohesion and can help mitigate feelings
  of loss of control that often lie at the root of resistance and political contestation. One way for cities
  to promote informal ties of trust between newcomers and established residents is to tap into the
  localized identities and shared responsibilities that come from living in the same neighbourhood.
  Examples of this approach include plans by the City of Gdansk, Poland, to build onto the existing
  structure of its Neighbourhood Houses to allow residents to develop their own activities related
  to cohesion and inclusion, and in Malaga, Spain, the participatory neighbourhood assemblies
  that work to improve the living conditions of all local residents. Many cities also rely on volunteers
  to reinforce local services – as in the case of volunteer guardians for unaccompanied children
  in Palermo and Milan. The pandemic has led to a surge of community engagement that is often
  hyper-localized, particularly during the most acute phase of the lockdowns when many people’s
  daily reality shrunk to the size of their neighbourhoods. Cities may find creative ways to use this
  heightened local solidarity to advance inclusion. However, volunteer-based approaches have
  long raised concerns that they are a shortcut to budget cuts for official services – a debate that
  may grow louder in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, as the pandemic has exposed the pitfalls of
  government disinvestment from key public services.

► Building untraditional partnerships. Cities have become adept at working with a diverse set of
  partners, including research institutes, international organizations, grassroots non-governmental
  organizations, charities, social entrepreneurs, and businesses both large and small. An important
  element of this shift has been for cities to move away from seeing non-governmental partners
  primarily as implementors of policies or programmes and towards a more peer-to-peer
  relationship that involves them in shaping services as well. This is evident, for example, in how city
  governments in Palermo, Thessaloniki, and Antwerp (Belgium) have partnered with civil society to
  develop innovate solutions to protect and support unaccompanied children. But this shift has not
  been without gaps and risks. Direct partnerships between local governments and businesses are
  still a rare breed; instead, private companies sometimes take on a greater role as integration service
  providers where public engagement is limited, as in the case of Mastercard providing financial
  inclusion trainings in Bucharest, Romania. Moreover, city authorities used to collaborating with
  larger and more established parts of civil society often struggle to form meaningful partnerships
  with more informal, community-based groups – local players that may emerge as key actors as
  communities need to adapt to COVID-19-related challenges. Migrant associations in particular
  often find themselves side-lined or pigeonholed and only tapped for expertise on immigration and
  integration projects. Involving such organizations as providers of municipal social services
  – as is done in Milan and in Warsaw – can help them build confidence and an image as key
  strategic partners within the local social economy, rather than just cultural institutions.

► Co-creating services. Involving beneficiaries of services in their design and delivery – an approach
  known as “co-creation” – is based on sound logic: it helps cities better understand the (sometimes
  invisible) hurdles migrant and refugees face on their integration journeys and design smarter,
  more streamlined services. Examples range from Palermo’s “validation groups”, a panel of potential
  service users who help a network of local service providers and city authorities design initiatives
  for unaccompanied children, to an effort in Antwerp to include the voices of refugees in the
  process of defining and evaluating the success of a co-housing programme. But while co-creation

                                        MPI Europe and IOM | 2

        is a popular idea, its application has thus far been limited. This approach can also inadvertently
        favour the involvement of better educated and more articulate members of a target population.
        Still, applying co-creation methods locally to design solutions to COVID-19-related challenges
        could help cities promote community cohesion across the usual group boundaries, while also
        ensuring the needs of migrants and refugees are reflected in general relief and stimulus measures.
        Although many cities are under pressure to provide rapid and assertive responses, potentially
        creating incentives to skip this step, doing so may mean missing a valuable opportunity to
        strengthen inclusive local identities around a sense of shared responsibility.

Community-based reactions to the public health crisis and related lockdowns – for example, the uptick
in volunteerism and forms of neighbourhood solidarity such as food drives – point to as yet untapped
potential for European cities looking for innovative, whole-of-community approaches to social inclusion.
In an extremely tough economic reality, some localities will have no choice but to hope that other,
non-governmental actors step in to plug gaps in public services. But as the recession touches more
groups, this may place pressure on the stores of social capital and goodwill on which social innovation
ecosystems are based. At the same time, impending budget cuts threaten to wipe out resources that
small civil society organizations need for survival.

In this rapidly changing social and economic landscape, local efforts to promote innovation for migrant
and refugee inclusion will have to shift gears. In particular, cities will need to tackle the hard questions
of effectiveness, sustainability, efficiency, and scalability if social innovation is to turn from a novelty
into a robust tool for transforming local government. Cities can support social innovation in many
ways – including by giving migrants and refugees a central role in designing the roadmap to recovery,
thus moving from social innovation for inclusion to inclusive social innovation. And with civil society
actors likely to face significant challenges in rebounding from the pandemic, cities may find that this is
the right moment to apply the tools of social innovation within city hall – incorporating them into their
institutional DNA – rather than viewing them as a prerogative of their non-governmental partners.

1 Introduction
The rapid arrival of more than 2 million asylum seekers in Europe in 2015–161 caught many local
governments unprepared. Within two years, Berlin received more than 70,000 humanitarian
newcomers,2 putting the local administration and service providers under severe strain, creating huge
backlogs, and driving the city to deploy untested and creative measures to find accommodations for
new arrivals, such as renting rooms in youth hostels and repurposing gym halls and old airport spaces.3
In Rome, thousands of asylum seekers had no other choice but to stay in vacant buildings as emergency
shelters overflowed.4 Similarly, many asylum seekers waiting to register at the Brussels Immigration
Office in late 2015 were left without a place to sleep and had to camp in a nearby park as authorities

1   Eurostat, “Asylum and First Time Asylum Applicants by Citizenship, Age and Sex. Annual Aggregated Data (Rounded) [migr_
    asyappctza]”, updated 15 October 2019.
2   Berlin State Office for Refugee Matters, “Zahlen und Fakten”, accessed 27 July 2020; World Economic Forum, Migration and Its
    Impact on Cities – An Insight Report (Geneva: World Economic Forum, 2017).
3   City of Berlin, “Derzeit fast 650 Flüchtlinge in Berliner Hostels”, updated 3 February 2016; City of Berlin, District Office
    Tempelhof-Schöneberg, “Unterkünfte für Geflüchtete in Tempelhof-Schöneberg”, accessed 5 August 2020.
4   Mattha Busby and Carlotta Dotto, “I Love Rome, but Rome Doesn’t Love Us: The City’s New Migrant Crisis”, The Guardian, 19
    February 2018.

                                                  MPI Europe and IOM | 3

scrambled to deal with soaring backlogs.5 Starting in 2014, Milan saw a spike in the number of
unaccompanied migrant children in the city, with around 800 of them in municipal accommodations by
late 2017 – a number that challenged its capacity to meet the needs of this vulnerable group.6 Smaller
localities also faced significant challenges: Kufstein, an Austrian town near the German border, became
a transit point for asylum seekers on their way to Germany and other countries in Northern and Western

Crises often act as a                The ways in which communities adapted to these intense, localized
                                     challenges hold lessons that continue to resonate today, particularly
magnifying glass for                 as countries in Europe and elsewhere face a dual public health and
existing limitations in              economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic that has
government operations.               similarly wrought havoc on local service provision. Indeed, crises
                                     often act as a magnifying glass for existing limitations in government
operations. In 2015–16, localities struggled to support the diverse needs of large numbers of – often
vulnerable – newcomers and were forced to fill gaps in national support services, from reception and
early medical assistance for asylum seekers to mental health and labour market supports. The period
since then has shown how long the tail of a crisis can extend, with many cities and communities still
working to help newcomers find their feet and thrive in their new country, while tempering the swell of
public anxiety and polarization around immigration issues.

The spike in arrivals in 2015–16 also precipitated another shift, away from seeing government as the
sole or primary locus for community-building and service provision and towards a more decentralized
approach to inclusion and social cohesion. Since then, European cities have made huge progress in
improving their infrastructure for dialogue and lesson-sharing on migrant inclusion – for example,
through the creation of the Urban Agenda Partnership on the Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees in
2016.8 Meanwhile a newly gained sense of confidence has allowed localities to carve out a stronger role
in shaping migration and integration policymaking at higher levels of governance.9

This period has seen European cities become agents and places of social innovation10 – originators of
unconventional solutions to meet society’s needs, both in response to rising diversity and leveraging
it to enhance communities’ capacity to act.11 Through partnerships with non-governmental actors,
cities have tapped into new perspectives, ideas, and resources, from grassroots organizations’ first-
hand experience with target groups to private companies’ international networks. The potential of
local stakeholders to innovate in support of migrant and refugee inclusion has been recognized and
encouraged at the EU level as well – for example, through the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) initiative

5  Hanne Beirens, Cracked Foundation, Uncertain Future: Structural Weaknesses in the Common European Asylum System (Brussels:
   Migration Policy Institute Europe, 2018).
6 Fabiana Ortugno and Diana Balena, Il Tutore Volontario: Opportunità e Criticità (Milan: City of Milan, Office of the Ombudsman
   for Children’s and Adolescents’ Rights, n.d.); author interview with Barbara Lucchesi, Unaccompanied Minors Team
   Coordinator, Unit for Inclusion and Immigration Policies, City of Milan, 9 September 2019.
7 Author interview with Bernhard Kapfinger, Mobile Counsellor, Emergency Shelter Kufstein, Tiroler Soziale Dienste GmbH, 3
   September 2019; Tirol ORF, “Hunderte Flüchtlinge an der Grenze Kufstein”, TIROL ORF, 4 November 2015.
8 Christiane Heimann and Janina Stürner, Evaluation Report: Urban Partnership on the Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees (N.p.:
   Urban Agenda for the EU, 2019).
9 Janina Stürner, Christiane Heimann, Petra Bendel, and Hannes Schamann, “When Mayors Make Migration Policy: What Role for
   Cities in EU Migration and Integration Policymaking?” (policy brief, European Policy Centre, Brussels, 4 March 2020).
10 Urban Innovative Actions (UIA), How Are UIA Migrants and Refugees Integration Projects Implementing Innovative Ways for Better
   Managing Inclusion? (Brussels: UIA, 2019).
11 Social Innovation Community, “What Is Social Innovation?”, updated 17 April 2018.

                                                  MPI Europe and IOM | 4

launched by the European Commission in 2015 to support cities across Europe in identifying and testing
new solutions for urban challenges, including in the area of migrant inclusion.12

The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened this budding infrastructure and risks unwinding the
achievements of recent years. It has further highlighted and exacerbated deep inequities and
vulnerabilities that immigrant and minority communities face13 – from more limited access to health
care among migrants and refugees to the vulnerabilities of people living on the knife-edge of poverty
or working in the informal or precarious economy. Moreover, it has forced the suspension of many
government and non-profit services that act as a lifeline for these groups and made it more difficult for
many to tap into informal support structures at community centres, libraries, churches, and mosques.

As cities begin to re-open in Europe, local governments face the longer-term challenge of supporting
diverse populations amid slashed budgets that could make it politically more difficult to invest in
support for those not seen as “genuine” community members. Yet at the same time, an outpouring
of community engagement similar to what was seen in 2015–16 is taking place – albeit under the
constraints of social distancing. This moment thus represents a large-scale experiment in community
resilience: how will communities innovate to plug the holes caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19
pandemic, and can the bonds of social cohesion be preserved and strengthened as a result?

The experiences of 2015–16 offer much instruction in this regard. Cities that were cash-strapped
or received an especially large number of arriving refugees and migrants, as well as those newer to
integration issues, had to reinvent their modes of working – particularly by involving non-governmental
partners and local residents in designing and delivering services. This report analyses innovative
approaches that have emerged since 2015 and reflects on how these models could help cities address
new challenges, and how they would need to be adapted to do so. While the pandemic threatens
multiple facets of migrant and refugee integration, it is also an opportunity to capitalize on hyper-
local forms of solidarity as a force for inclusion – particularly as the daily reality of many people around
Europe has shrunk to the size of their neighbourhood. To do so, however, it is essential that cities master
the ropes of social innovation and learn from past mistakes.

This report is mainly based on research conducted as part of the ADMin4ALL project on “Supporting
Social Inclusion of Vulnerable Migrants in Europe” (see Box 1) in cities and towns in Southern as well
as Central and Eastern Europe that have faced particularly challenging situations, from high levels
of spontaneous arrivals in 2015–16 and limited integration experience or service infrastructure to
restrictive national policies and strained economies. This analysis also includes examples from other
European urban centres that have devised innovative solutions to handle the pressures of 2015–16 and
promote lasting inclusion of newcomers in the local fabric of society. The report starts by examining
the potential of social innovation to support migrant and refugee inclusion (Section 2) before exploring

12 UIA, “Integration of Migrants and Refugees”, accessed 29 June 2020.
13 Roald Høvring, “10 Things You Should Know about Coronavirus and Refugees”, Norwegian Refugee Council, 16 March 2020.
   In Europe, non-EU migrant workers are much more vulnerable than nationals or EU workers to the labour market disruptions
   brought by the COVID-19 pandemic; they are much more likely than native workers to hold temporary work contracts (48
   per cent higher chance), more likely to be employed in jobs that cannot be performed virtually/remotely, and at a higher risk
   of poverty and lacking a financial cushion that could help them weather a drop in income. See Francesco Fasani and Jacopo
   Mazza, A Vulnerable Workforce: Migrant Workers in the COVID-19 Pandemic (Brussels: Joint Research Centre, 2020). Similarly,
   research from the United States has shown that immigrants and Latinos (both native and foreign born) are over-represented
   in industries that are central to the COVID-19 response as well as those most immediately affected by mass layoffs; see Randy
   Capps, Jeanne Batalova, and Julia Gelatt, COVID-19 and Unemployment: Assessing the Early Fallout for Immigrants and Other U.S.
   Workers (Washington, D.C.: Migration Policy Institute, 2020).

                                                  MPI Europe and IOM | 5

promising practices and persistent challenges (Section 3). The final section offers reflections on how
these lessons can help diverse cities advance inclusion and social cohesion in the wake of the COVID-19
pandemic and amid the associated economic, social, and political uncertainty – in short, how to use
social innovation to put local communities at the centre of recovery efforts.

About the ADMin4ALL project

This research was conducted as part of the ADMin4ALL project on “Supporting Social Inclusion of
Vulnerable Migrants in Europe”. The project, which is implemented by the International Organization
for Migration (IOM) and funded by the European Commission, aims to enhance the capacity of local
governments to develop sustainable strategies and inclusive services for the successful social and
economic integration of migrants.

This study draws its findings from a review of the relevant literature as well as semi-structured qualitative
interviews conducted by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) Europe, either in person or via telephone,
with representatives of Kufstein, Austria; Thessaloniki and the neighbouring municipalities of Kalamaria
and Neapoli-Sykies in Greece; Milan and Palermo, Italy; Malta; Gdansk and Warsaw, Poland; Bucharest,
Romania; and Malaga, Spain. These cities offer an interesting range of examples, given how they differ
in terms of population size, the framework of national policies and resources, and their experiences
as immigrant destinations. Interviewees included local authority officials and public service providers
as well as non-governmental local stakeholders, such as civil society, migrant organizations, social
enterprises, and the private sector.

For more information on the ADMin4ALL project, see: https://admin4all.eu/.

2 Social Innovation: Hype or hope?
Innovation often comes as a by-product of emergency. As numerous European cities found themselves
facing a sharp uptick in mixed migration while still grappling with the effects of the economic crisis that
started in the late 2000s, many with little infrastructure, regulatory authority, or money to respond to
newcomers’ immediate needs or make longer-term integration investments,14 these constraints drove
some to see their roles in a new light: as mobilizers and coordinators of local resources, rather than as
the sole providers of official services and support.

Closer exchange with civil society, the private sector, and wider local communities created ecosystems
of social innovation for migrant and refugee inclusion. While “social innovation” has become a buzzword
with varying definitions depending on context, it essentially describes the development of new
products, services, or processes that meet a social need while also optimizing the use of resources and
relationships available in a society.15 As such, it involves two primary dimensions – one answering the
question “what?” (new solutions), and the other answering the question “how?” (widening the pool of
resources and using them more efficiently).

14 Liam Patuzzi, European Cities on the Front Line: New and Emerging Governance Models for Migrant Inclusion (Brussels and
   Geneva: Migration Policy Institute Europe and International Organization for Migration, 2020).
15 Social Innovation Community (2018), op. cit.

                                                   MPI Europe and IOM | 6

Approaching challenges of inclusion and diversity
through a social innovation lens can offer cities      While “social innovation” has become
many advantages. In particular, it can help them       a buzzword with varying definitions
move beyond the view of integration as just            depending on context, it essentially
another regulatory area, an administrative matter
that mainly takes place between public authorities
                                                       describes the development of new
on one side and migrants and refugees on the           products, services, or processes
other. While applying a social innovation logic to     that meet a social need while also
integration and inclusion challenges has resulted      optimizing the use of resources and
in a diversity of concrete solutions, some of which
will be discussed in Section 3, it has also led to the
                                                       relationships available in a society.
identification of cross-cutting approaches that promise to bring new tools to bear on inclusion issues.
These include:

    ► Forging partnerships to tap expertise, networks, and resources outside government.
      Engaging a cross-section of social partners in designing and delivering services for migrant and
      refugee inclusion can help public administrations overcome some of their limitations – including
      those that stem from their large size, strongly engrained institutional cultures, and formally
      regulated procedures. For example, local authorities can join agile organizations such as social
      enterprises and grassroots civil society groups in “smart networks” – non-hierarchical, flexible
      systems in which a diverse set of partners collaborate around a shared goal.16 Partnering with non-
      governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector can help cities ensure key services are
      accessible to communities with which it may be difficult for government actors and public service
      providers to build the necessary level of trust,17 including those who have a general mistrust of
      public authorities (sometimes as a result of experiences in countries of origin) and those who fear
      that interacting with public institutions may negatively affect their legal status. Such partnerships
      can also help cities incorporate non-public services into a broader infrastructure of support,
      which is especially important where cities have limited resources. Meanwhile, collaborating with
      businesses can open up new ways to sustain services through market-driven financing models,
      and potentially help local authorities tap into the pools of global expertise that larger corporations
      have access to. In Bucharest, for example, the engagement of private sector actors in the financial
      and legal fields has allowed the city to provide migrants and refugees training on financial topics18
      and on their rights to access certain services.19

16 Liam Patuzzi and Alexandra Embiricos, Social Innovation for Refugee Inclusion Conference Report: Maintaining Momentum and
   Creating Lasting Change (Brussels: Migration Policy Institute Europe, 2018); Jeffrey Goldstein, James K. Hazy, and Benyamin
   B. Lichtenstein, “Leading through Smart Networks”, in Complexity and the Nexus of Leadership, eds. Jeffrey Goldstein, James K.
   Hazy, and Benyamin B. Lichtenstein (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
17 Author interview with Bogdan Patru, Head of Public Policy Romania, Mastercard, Bucharest, 19 November 2019.
18 The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Mastercard launched a partnership in 2018 to provide financial
   education for vulnerable groups in Romania, which led to the development of tailor-made financial products for migrants
   and refugees. Author interview with Bogdan Patru, Head of Public Policy Romania, Mastercard, Bucharest, 19 November 2019;
   IOM, “Mastercard, UN Migration Agency Team Up to Help Vulnerable Migrants, Refugees in Romania”, updated 7 March 2018.
19 In 2019, the Romanian office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the National Romanian Council
   for Refugees, and global business law firm DLA Piper started cooperating within the Know Your Rights Project in Bucharest.
   They jointly developed a nine-week legal education programme for asylum seekers, refugees, and migrants, including
   modules on entrepreneurship and navigating local bureaucracy. Implementation of the course was due to start in early
   2020, but it had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Author interview with Carolina Marin and Gabriela Leu,
   Senior Protection Associate and Communications Associate, UNHCR Romania, Bucharest, 30 November 2019; UNHCR, “Legal
   Education Program for Asylum-Seekers and Refugees in Romania”, updated 9 December 2019.

                                                  MPI Europe and IOM | 7

    ► Co-creating solutions with migrants to better reflect their experiences and meet their needs.
      In the past five years, many local initiatives have emphasized the value of engaging refugees
      and migrants in designing integration solutions – a model known as “co-creation”. This approach
      originated in the 1960s and 1970s in the IT industry before spilling over into urban planning
      and other fields.20 In the area of migrant and refugee inclusion, it has been driven mainly by civil
      society, particularly new social ventures, but it has slowly made its way into city administrations.
      This approach elicits the first-hand expertise of migrants and refugees on the arrival and
      settlement process to develop more effective services. By softening the line between service
      providers and recipients and treating immigrants as active players who add value, co-creation
      also reduces power imbalances. Moreover, it can help highlight their contribution to receiving
      communities, especially if migrants and refugees have opportunities to engage on more than just
      immigrant integration. And when old and new residents join forces in search of new solutions
      to shared social challenges, this can create strong ties around a sense of common purpose. In
      Palermo, internationally linked civil society organizations such as the European Centre of Studies
      and Initiatives (CESIE) have helped the city successfully apply participatory approaches to learning
      – for example, by building on migrants’ and refugees’ culturally specific health practices and
      knowledge to help them navigate the health-care system of the receiving society.21

    ► Involving receiving communities to strengthen bonds between neighbours. For city
      authorities, especially where resources are scarce, making inclusion a community effort can
      (1) leverage the energy of volunteerism, which risks being lost if it is not given adequate support,
      recognition, and structure; (2) give all local residents a sense of stake in and ownership of the issue,
      while avoiding feelings of loss of control that lie at the root of resistance and political contestation;
      and (3) advance integration by building relationships between old and new residents. Involving
      broader communities can also foster social capital and thus advance integration in spheres that
      strongly depend on informal networks – such as work and housing – but to which authorities can
      generally only regulate formal access. Cities have an advantage over other levels of government
      when it comes to community involvement because they can more easily foster a shared identity
      among residents around place-based challenges rather than more abstract notions of belonging.
      Community-based initiatives can also lower the bar for participation in integration activities by
      providing informal spaces for dialogue and exchange, such as through leisure activities. In Milan,
      for example, the migrant association Sunugal has actively tried to subvert common narratives
      about migrants (both hostile and benevolent-but-paternalistic ones) by collaborating with non-
      migrant civil society groups and building a strong reputation as a service provider for all residents,
      including through an International Neighbourhood Centre that offers a range of cultural events,
      courses, and skill-building activities.22 Similarly, the City of Kufstein has sought to promote positive
      encounters between locals and newcomers through low-threshold activities such as language
      cafes and gardening projects.23

    ► Adopting a human-centred approach to streamline services. In the context of migrant and
      refugee inclusion, social innovation does not necessarily involve creating new tools and services;

20 Stephanie Gioia, “A Brief History of Co-Creation”, Medium, 24 August 2015.
21 Author interview with Roberta Lo Bianco, Coordinator of Migration Unit, European Centre of Studies and Initiatives (CESIE),
   Palermo, 28 November 2019; CESIE, “VIM - Vitality Interventions for Migrants”, accessed 26 May 2020.
22 Author interview with Modou Gueye, President of the Association Sunugal, Milan, 6 January 2020; Centro Internazionale di
   Quartiere (CIQ), “Attività”, accessed 25 May 2020.
23 Author interview with Meral Sevencan, Integration Commissioner, City of Kufstein, 19 September 2019; author interview with
   Bernhard Kapfinger, Mobile Counsellor, Emergency Shelter Kufstein, Tiroler Soziale Dienste GmbH, 3 September 2019.

                                                  MPI Europe and IOM | 8

         it may instead entail identifying blind spots, dead-ends, and interruptions in integration pathways
         and closing them by better connecting the dots between available offerings. These obstacles
         often have their roots in an institutional understanding of services that creates artificial separation
         between spheres of life that do not correspond to the lived experiences of newcomers. For
         migrants and refugees with complex and interconnected support needs, it may be necessary
         to combine different types of support and to provide services in a more holistic way. This often
         requires strong upfront investments to overcome long-standing divisions between services, but
         successful coordination can maximize integration outcomes by exploiting synergies between
         types of support; for example, the sense of stability that comes with adequate housing, the sense
         of self-worth that comes with meaningful social interactions, and the sense of autonomy and
         independence that comes with employment can mutually reinforce one another.

    ► Applying interdisciplinary knowledge to multifaceted challenges. Another key advantage
      of a social innovation approach to migrant and refugee inclusion is that it encourages cities to
      tap into wider pools of knowledge. This can help city administrations view inclusion as more
      than an administrative matter. Indeed, inclusion has economic, social, psychological, political,
      and technical dimensions that are deeply interconnected. Bringing multidisciplinary insights and
      cutting-edge advances in from a range of fields, such as digital technologies, social psychology,24
      and behavioural science may deepen understanding of how to best promote integration. Like
      other destinations across Europe, the City of Milan has actively tried to involve the local tech
      community in developing solutions for migrant and refugee integration; in March 2018, it
      promoted a hackathon that eventually resulted in the development of an app – in collaboration
      with a technical university and the local prefecture – to inform migrants about the possibility of
      and procedure for family reunification.25 And in Warsaw, the city-run Centre for Socio-Educational
      Innovation and Training applies state-of-the-art research in education and child psychology
      to improve the capacity of local educators to teach in diverse classrooms and improve the
      educational outcomes of migrant children.26

Despite the growing appetite for social innovation among immigration and integration policymakers,
the field is still rather new and has not yet fully lived up to its potential.27 Even where promising practices
have emerged at the local level, the stakeholders involved may not identify the success factors that
would allow the model to be scaled up or applied in different cultural, social, institutional, or economic
contexts – a limitation due in part to the fact that many integration initiatives have limited experience
with conducting evaluations of their work.28 The many different understandings and definitions of social
innovation can also complicate exchange between local actors.

24 Meghan Benton, Antonio Silva, and Will Somerville, Applying Behavioural Insights to Support Immigrant Integration and Social
   Cohesion (Brussels: Migration Policy Institute Europe, 2018).
25 The app My Journey is expected to be available soon for free download at the website wemi.milano.it. Author interview with
   Rosanna Sucato, Social Assistant, Department for Rights, Inclusion and Projects, Unit for WeMi and Project Development, City
   of Milan, 9 September 2019; Samuele Maccolini, “Le App Salveranno i Migranti: La Nuova Era dell’Integrazione Inizia Online”,
   Linkiesta, 8 August 2018; Comune di Milano, Benvenuti a Milano. Guida per i Nuovi Arrivati (Milan: City of Milan, 2019).
26 Author interview with Malgorzata Zasunska, Project Coordinator, Warsaw Centre for Socio-Educational Innovation and
   Training, 27 September 2019.
27 Liam Patuzzi, Meghan Benton, and Alexandra Embiricos, Social Innovation for Refugee Inclusion: From Bright Spots to System
   Change (Brussels: Migration Policy Institute Europe, 2019).
28 J-PAL’s European Social Inclusion Initiative is one example of a project that seeks to promote evaluation capacity and a culture
   of evidence among local-level initiatives for migrant inclusion. See J-PAL, “European Social Inclusion Initiative”, accessed 25
   May 2020.

                                                   MPI Europe and IOM | 9

The outbreak of COVID-19 and the                          The outbreak of COVID-19 and the measures put
                                                          in place to contain it – such as lockdowns and
measures put in place to contain it                       social distancing orders – have disrupted much
... have disrupted much of the public                     of the public infrastructure that supports migrant
infrastructure that supports migrant                      and refugee integration, and it is uncertain
and refugee integration.                                  when operations will be fully restored.29 With
                                                          the pandemic casting a dark shadow over the
global economy, and European societies bracing for high unemployment and slashed budgets, local
governments’ scope to invest in immigrant integration risks becoming more narrow in the next few years
– financially as well as politically. At the same time, a spike in community solidarity30 and a resurgent
appetite for cross-stakeholder solutions based on multidisciplinary know-how could make this a historic
opportunity for social innovation to strengthen community resilience. While this is a very different
situation than the one Europe faced in 2015–16, local governments can capitalize on several lessons
learnt – first and foremost, the value of taking a step back, identifying resources and potential allies at
the local level, and rethinking the power relationships that exist between them and local authorities and
ways to build durable trust.

3 Social Innovation in Diverse Cities
Social innovation often has greatest value when it brings new perspectives to bear on old challenges,
helps public services cater more effectively to the needs of the populations they assist, or plugs gaps
in existing service provision. This section analyses innovative approaches to inclusion described
by interviewees during the ADMin4ALL project, including their benefits and drawbacks. There is
considerable variation in these models, in part because, as some interviewees noted, there are disparate
understandings of what qualifies as “innovative”, at times based on personal intuition rather than
rigorous criteria.31

A.       Addressing the needs of the most vulnerable and hardest to reach
One of the main promises of social innovation is in offering new ways to counter the exclusion of highly
vulnerable groups – such as unaccompanied children, asylum seekers who are homeless or experiencing
mental illness, illiterate newcomers, and disadvantaged refugee and migrant women. Often, innovative
approaches do so by plugging gaps in standardized (and therefore less flexible) or underfunded systems
of mainstream support. As the COVID-19 crisis throws the vulnerability of many migrant and refugee
populations into sharp relief – both due to short-term health risks and to second-order economic and
social effects, such as unemployment and stigmatization32 – the need for such services may soon be
greater than ever, even as financial pressures may make them harder to sustain. While governments

29 Solidar Foundation, “Protecting the Most Vulnerable in Society: Migration and COVID-19” (policy brief no. 95, Solidar
   Foundation, Brussels, 2020).
30 Ylenia Gostoli, “Coronavirus in Italy: Solidarity in the Time of Disease”, Deutsche Welle, 18 March 2020.
31 One civil society interviewee in Warsaw expressed this blurriness pointedly as she talked about a successful project to engage,
   upskill, and empower Ukrainian migrant women (Ukrainian Women’s Club): “I find it hard to characterize it as ‘innovation’,
   because it simply responds to people’s needs; for me, it is normal. But Ashoka contacted me and asked me to present
   the model at a conference on social innovation, so I had to think about what makes us innovative.” Author interview with
   Myroslava Keryk, President of the association Fundacja Nasz Wybor (Our Choice Foundation), Warsaw, 27 September 2019.
32 Hans Henri P. Kluge et al., “Refugee and Migrant Health in the COVID-19 Response”, The Lancet, 2020; Høvring (2020), op. cit.;
   Aviva Hope Rutkin, “Why Some People Are More Vulnerable to Catching Coronavirus”, National Geographic, 13 March 2020.

                                                  MPI Europe and IOM | 10

across different levels can improve formal access to services through regulatory changes – and in
responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, many have moved quickly to ensure their migrant populations
have continued access to essential services33 – other hurdles are best addressed by rethinking how
services are designed and delivered.

A holistic approach to services
While public services often address particular needs (for example, pertaining to employment, housing,
or training) in isolation, reflecting administrative structures, some innovative approaches aim for
simultaneity of support – using the beneficiary’s experience as their main point of reference rather
than institutional divisions. In Palermo, the project Ragazzi Harraga (Harraga Guys), run between 2017
and 2019 by a regional alliance that includes non-profit partners alongside the municipality, aimed to
promote the autonomy and skills of unaccompanied children by developing new models and tools to
link up service providers who worked with them.34 Such an approach reduces the risk that beneficiaries
get trapped in a web of referrals, or that progress in one area is stifled by obstacles in others. A holistic
approach to services may be particularly beneficial in cities with large vulnerable populations; in Milan
and Thessaloniki, for example, interviewees stressed how the urgency to meet the needs of large
numbers of unaccompanied children led to the development of multi-service models.

Holistic services may gain in importance in the wake of COVID-19. Lockdowns and social distancing
orders in some jurisdictions are still disrupting access to services,35 and in places that have begun to re-
open, referral chains may take a long time to get back up to speed due to massive backlogs and some
service providers having to reduce capacity or even close shop. This may further delay already lengthy
integration pathways, possibly leading to longer-term scarring effects on newcomers’ employment and
income. Yet integrated or “wrap-around” services tend to be expensive and often focus on quality and
intensity rather than scale – casting some doubt over their sustainability as local governments prepare
to address soaring needs with slashed resources.

Fostering autonomy around a sense of home
Finding affordable, good-quality housing is one of the most pressing challenges many newcomers
face.36 This can be particularly difficult for refugees who are leaving public reception facilities and may
not be prepared to navigate local housing markets,37 as well as for irregular migrants with very limited

33 In March 2020, Portugal granted all migrants, including asylum seekers with pending applications, full access to social
   security, unemployment allowances, and health care. See European Web Site on Integration, “Portuguese Government Gives
   Temporary Residence to Immigrants with Pending Applications”, updated 28 March 2020. Meanwhile, the government
   of Barcelona launched a fast-track procedure to regularize all migrants with pending residence applications and work
   authorizations. See Council of Europe, “Intercultural Cities: COVID-19 Special Page”, accessed 26 May 2020.
34 The project, which ran from 2016 to 2019, was founded by Cariplo Foundation. To facilitate better communication between
   support providers working with unaccompanied children, stakeholders in Palermo created a circulating digital folder (cartella
   sociale del minore) – the first of its kind in Italy – that records and links together all support measures for individual children,
   their educational progress, and administrative procedures to help them pursue their personal ambitions. Author interview
   with Roberta Lo Bianco, Coordinator of Migration Unit, CESIE, Palermo, 28 November 2019; Never Alone, “Harraga Guys: Social
   Inclusion Paths for Unaccompanied Migrant Children in the City of Palermo”, accessed 25 May 2020; Minori Stranieri Non
   Accompagnati, “La Cartella Sociale del Minore Non Accompagnato”, accessed 25 May 2020.
35 Anna Knoll and Amanda Bisong, “Migration, Mobility and COVID-19: A Tale of Many Tales”, European Centre for Development
   Policy Management, 30 March 2020.
36 Patuzzi (2020), op. cit.
37 Author interview with Irida Pandiri and Nefeli Pandiri, Social Workers, Association for the Social Support of Youth (ARSIS),
   Thessaloniki, 17 September 2019; author interview with Paolo Pagani, Coordinator, and Paolo Grassini, Head of Social
   Housing, Cooperative Farsi Prossimo, Milan, 10 September 2019; author interview with Dominik Wach, Senior Social Work
   Specialist, Warsaw Family Support Centre, 26 September 2019.

                                                    MPI Europe and IOM | 11

access to public support.38 These and other barriers often force migrants into overcrowded housing and
remote, disadvantaged, or poorly connected areas of the city – conditions that stifle their access to social
interactions as well as educational and employment opportunities. In the worst cases, housing barriers
can lead to homelessness, triggering a spiral of marginalization.

In recognition of its importance, housing often
plays a central role in urban models to prevent or Milan’s Central Station Help Centre ...
counter migrant exclusion, such as in “housing-         has built on this model with positive
first” and “housing-led” approaches.39 The housing-
first model provides accommodation as a first step
                                                        results, providing an immediate street-
in cases of intense marginalization or destitution, to-home transition for homeless
fostering a basic sense of stability as a foundation migrants and other residents with
for further integration investments. For example,       addictions, mental health conditions,
Milan’s Central Station Help Centre – a service
point for homeless, destitute, and marginalized
                                                        and relational and cognitive issues.
residents run jointly by the city and civil society organizations – has built on this model with positive
results, providing an immediate street-to-home transition for homeless migrants and other residents
with addictions, mental health conditions, and relational and cognitive issues.40 Housing-led approaches,
on the other hand, create a more gradual pathway to independent housing for clients with less intensive
support needs.

The public health crisis that swept across Europe in 2020 is further exposing vulnerabilities related to
inadequate housing – including those affecting asylum seekers living in overcrowded public facilities,
migrant families living in cramped accommodations due to their limited income or discrimination, and
irregular migrants without access to shelter.41 Civil society groups have often been the first to step in:
in Brussels, Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) has opened a 50-bed medical shelter for
homeless and irregular migrants, where those who have tested positive for COVID-19 can receive initial
care and be referred to hospitals if their symptoms worsen.42

While such solutions can provide important stopgaps, many of the challenges migrants and refugees
face in urban housing markets have their roots in protracted public underinvestment in (social) housing,
rather than integration barriers alone. Models such as housing-first may gain further traction as city
governments seek to manage a likely spike in destitution and homelessness as a result of the economic
downturn and thinner safety nets. Yet their effectiveness and political feasibility will depend on whether
it is possible to scale them up, and this will only work if social innovation is backed up by strong
structural investments to keep housing affordable for everyone. The City of Helsinki has applied the
housing-first principle consistently over the past decade and managed to achieve remarkable reductions

38 European Federation of National Organisations Working with the Homeless (FEANTSA), “The State of Emergency Shelters”,
   Homeless in Europe Magazine (Spring 2019).
39 There is some variance in how “housing first” and “housing led” are defined. While some present the two models as
   alternatives, others consider the housing-first model as a subcategory of housing-led approaches to homelessness. For the
   former understanding, see Homeless Link, “Housing First” or “Housing Led”? The Current Picture of Housing First in England
   (London: Housing Link, 2015). For the latter, see Isabelle Wutz, “Tackling Homelessness and Housing Exclusion in Europe: State
   of Play”, Families Europe, 30 September 2019.
40 This was inspired by the success of this model in other parts of Europe and North America. Author interview with Miriam
   Pasqui, City Official, Unit for the Coordination of Social Emergencies, Municipality of Milan; Alessia Cattaneo, Coordinator of
   CASC; Claudia Martinez and Massimo Petrignani, Social Workers, CASC, Milan, 10 September 2019.
41 Camille Baker, “Conditions for Migrants Are So Dire That COVID-19 Isn’t Even Their Deadliest Threat”, Quartz, 9 April 2020.
42 European Parliament Multimedia Centre, “Infoclip: COVID-19 - MSF Medical Shelter for Homeless and Undocumented
   Migrants with COVID-19”, accessed 26 May 2020.

                                                  MPI Europe and IOM | 12
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